We Used to Have Heroes

I can hardly watch TV these days; it reminds me too much of the real world, and it appears to me this world has gone to hell. I find myself looking around and wondering; where have all the heroes gone?

We Used to Have Heroes


They rode horses, wore white hats

Fought for what they believed was right

And ran the bad guys out of town

They looked out for their neighbors

Those who couldn’t defend themselves


When I was six, I was the Lone Ranger

And at the same time Superman

Ever ready to stand against anyone or anything

That dared to come against

Truth, justice, and the American way


When I was eight, I was Paladin

A black hat this time, and more rugged

But a hero still, who righted wrongs

And would go anywhere

To correct injustice and defend the defenseless


When I was ten, I was John Wayne

I learned to walk like him

Tried to make my voice deep like his

And hoped I’d grow to be tall, broad shouldered and brave

But mostly, I wanted to be a good man

A superb man, a combination of all of them

Those heroes who cared little for themselves

But lived for what they could do for others


Yes, it was just television

And all my heroes were make-believe

But they made me believe and they taught me

About right and wrong, and so many things


Where have all the heroes gone?

Who do we turn to now?

What is truth, or justice?

And, what is the American way?


My heroes stood proud and tall

Hands on their hips, ready to fight

For a way of life and a country they loved

Even though it was flawed in so many ways


I love my country


But it is a love like one has for a dying loved one

And I watch her now, slumbering in drugged apathy

Gurgling immorality, indecency, and corruption

Like a death rattle in cancer-ridden lungs


Atop her aged trembling hand, I place my own

And I ache within, realizing even should she survive

A mere shadowy skeleton of what she once was

Is all that will remain


I think back on those days of yesteryear

Days when this country stood strong and proud

And I see her slowly succumbing to darkness

With no heroes to swoop to her rescue


I stare at the floor… and silently, I weep


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

Today’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, hosted by Claudia, was to write an impressionist poem. I don’t think this one quite fits what Claudia had in mind, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. It speaks loudly of the impressions heroes from my childhood left upon me, and tells a tale of woe with regard to my impression of what has become of our beloved America. 


  1. where have the hero’s gone… maybe mom and dad if they have time

    • I was thinking the same thing when Sherry and I were discussing this poem this morning. I asked her who our grandchildren’s heroes were, and neither of us could imagine who they might be. I didn’t say it, but the thought crossed my mind that maybe it’s their parents. They are blessed with wonderful parents.
      Thank you for the visit and comment!

  2. Claudia said

    you added some darker colors and a depth of emotions to your poem that speaks loud of the passion you have for your land.. felt emotions charles

  3. heavy…i weep too…
    I love my country

    But it is a love like one has for a dying loved one

    And I watch her now
    i could not have said it better….there are few heroes and we are given the choice of villains to put in power knowing the whole time they are just puppets of the regime…

    • So true, Brian, and it tears my heart out to see what they’re doing to our beloved America. And, I am not speaking in a partisan way.
      Thank you for the comment.

  4. Mary said

    Charles, I had many of the same heroes you had. When I was a child (and you were), there seemed to be good heroes for children to follow and play. I don’t know about you, but the neighbor kids PLAYED Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers or Robin Hood. I wonder today who kids have to ‘play’ if they play some hero. Probably they don’t care to do this anymore, as they have hand held games and video systems and don’t need to really CHASE around outside anymore, as so much is virtual. I know this isn’t the point of your poem, but it is what came ot my mind as i read it. Who are the TV heroes kids can emulate today?? I wonder if anyone would watch if the Lone Ranger rode again!

    • Oh yes, we played those same games. My cousin and I had all the Paladin gear, down to the business cards. And yes, I wonder too, what today’s youth would think of our old programs. It’s a very different world from ours they are growing up in.
      Thank you for the wonderful comment!

  5. Charles, This may not have fit what Claudia had in mind, but it was wonderful nonetheless. It brought tears to my eyes. Peace, Linda

    • Well, like I always tell Sherry, if it made you cry, I did my job.
      Thank you very much, Linda!

  6. Charles, I HAVE to repost this on Awakenings! I looked for a way to reblog but did not find it. May I have your permission to copy it under your name linking to your website?

    (Awakenings is catnipoflife’s sister site: http://awakenings2012.blogspot.com/

    • Please do! And please know that anything you find on my blog may be re-posted; nothing I say is private, and I encourage all my readers to repost and share.
      Thank you, Sharla!

  7. Sherry Mashburn said

    Sadly, today’s “heroes” are usually drugged-out, violent sports figures, or scantily-clad pop stars. And the few today that are truly heroic, are derogated in the press for their out-spoken faith and belief.

  8. It isn’t just your country Charles, the whole world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket lately. I do think kids today and maybe since the 70’s have lacked the proper guidance they need, mainly because of the ‘politically correct’ people who say it’s wrong to shout, smack, or really discipline a child. There’s discipline and then there’s brutal over the top discipline, but it was a difference that never seemed to hurt us older generations at all. One quick smack in my lifetime was all it ever took for me to never want another.
    I think all of today’s hero’s are worshiped for being anti-hero’s. It’s okay to kill people as gruesomely as you wish, as long as it’s for the right reasons. Sad isn’t it. Very good read and some very valid points made Charles.

    • I agree, it is the whole world, but when it comes to my country, I take it more personally. I agree with everything you say in your comment, so I won’t repeat it, but I long for the day when their were heroes to look up to and admire.
      Thank you for the awesome comment!

  9. Abby Kelly said

    True in many ways and disheartening. We must be somber (turn our laughter to mourning) and cleanse our sinful hearts. We must experience true conviction and true repentance. But let us not loose heart!
    “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not lose heart!” Gal. 6:9

    • I will not grow weary, and I will not bow!
      Thank you for the uplifting comment, Abby!

  10. Well it’s an impression of your childhood!

  11. Laurie Kolp said

    Very sad indeed.

  12. It’s a really interesting idea here Charles – who are today’s heroes for the kids to look up to? Your poem made me think… still thinking…

    • Let me know what you come up with. I’d truly be interested.
      Thanks for the comment!

      • Been asleep all night and still no answers… It’ll take a wiser bird than me to figure this one out… 😉 Still a great poem – like a poem that makes me consider the world.

      • ah’ight den

  13. Louise said

    I understand this, although I’m not American. We don’t have leaders or heroes any more, either…a heartfelt poem

  14. Susan said

    Our current culture has no stomach for religion, much less heroes. Take heart, my friend, as long as we (an others like us) exist so do those heroes. I believe they will be at the polls in November and start the pendulum swinging in a better direction. (Had to clear my vision from tears before commenting.) Well done!

    • I will never lose heart, Susan. I am emotional when I write, and I put my heart on my sleeve, but I will not give up hope.
      Thank you for your constant support and encouragement. I appreciate you very much!

  15. Susan said

    Reblogged this on Sillyfrog's Blog and commented:
    My good friend has eloquently conveyed an important message and I wanted to share it.

  16. yoga-adan said

    “Gurgling immorality, indecency, and corruption

    Like a death rattle in cancer-ridden lungs” –

    so very sad my friend…

    but, and this is little consolation, those heroes arrose from a time thought as bad as you describe now, it seems to me now, it’s all cycles and process, but doesn’t make it much better to feel the learning curve is so slow it almost looks flat, but i really don’t believe it is –

    it must be the heroes memories in me telling me to hang in to the end 😉

    best wishes charles, i very much feel what you’re saying

    • I agree, Adan, and don’t get me wrong, I have not given up, and I will continue to hope for the best.
      Thanks for the great comment!

  17. I too love this country, and believe we spend way too much time dwelling on the negative. We are pummeled with it in the news, day after day. Maybe heroes don’t wear 10 gallon hats anymore, and maybe they aren’t larger than life as they seemed to be when we were young, and maybe they are fewer and farther between these days, but I believe they are still there if we look hard enough. When Pistorius from South Africa can run in the Olympics, proving that the only thing that handicaps a man is not what he is born without, but what “lies between the ears” (inspiring the “fighter” in all of us!), and when people like my young cousin Hanna can wake up each day with a smile on her face and fighting spirit in her heart, willing to testify before congressional committees, and do whatever it takes to spread the word for undiagnosed diseases in children (www.colescause.com) Yeah, thankfully some of my heroes are still alive and kickin’!

    • I agree, Ginny, we do spend way to much time dwelling on the negative, and that, I believe, is a arge part of the problem. I don’t watch the news, and in fact, watch very little television, and hardly listen to the radio anymore. I read, I listen, and I watch what is going on around me. There is hope, and I am encouraged by many of the young people I come in contact with each day. I am, however an emotional writer, and I say what’s on my mind.
      Thank you for the positive and encouraging comment! I appreciate it very much!

  18. shanyns said

    This reads like a Tom Russell song, you should send it to him! Or John Mellencamp. Wow…epic and yet I think there is hope. There is a generation who is rediscovering the old heroes and maybe they can make things better again!

    • I’m not familiar with Tom Russell, but now that you mention it, it might make a pretty good song. And, I hope the new generation does discover the heroes of days gone by, and I also hope some new ones come along that we can all cheer and look up to.
      Thanks for the great comment, Shanyns!

  19. Not sure who the heroes are now in the political, celebrity sector so much self absorption, to interested in what they can get for themselves…the true heroes are in our local neighborhoods, silently working a way to make their own piece of this world a better place. They’re not interested in publicity or awards.

    • Very true, Dianne. Many of our heroes today are working quietly in the shadows. Excellent point!
      Thank you for the wonderful comment!

  20. Mama Zen said

    This is really powerful writing.

  21. I think i expressed similar feeling in my July 4 poem. I think we’ve lost honor in the land..trust and honor which were prized when I was a child. Now it seems to be ridiculed. It’s so saccharine & goody-goody to be kind, to be truthful, to be honorable. Little wonder we’re pulling apart as a nation. Well written here, Charles.

    • Yes you did, and I thought it was a powerful poem. Political correctness is the culprit I think you’re referring to, and yes, it was designed to be and has thus far been successful in dividing the people of this country. It’s not about truth and honor any more, it’s about winning and power.
      Thanks for the great comment, Gay!

  22. Susan said

    Your poem has opened up some fine and necessary conversation, Charles. I could plunge in too, but I just want you to know how I picked up this line and held it precious: “But mostly, I wanted to be a good man”–that is a truth that is important to amplify. You are a good man, and it is good news that such a man can cry. Thank you for this poem!

  23. hedgewitch said

    Very well put, Charles. I actually was thinking something similar to this as I watched an episode of CSI last night–one of the new ones with that weird guy who says he’s Ted Danson–I couldn’t stomach more than a few minutes of the blood, sadism and perverted nastiness—-(and I’m not exactly a repressed, hung up person)–the show used to be funny, and even perhaps have a bit of a moral from time to time but now all I can think is, this is on when kids can watch it? I watched a bit of Dirty Harry the other night–tough, gritty realism, right? Looks like Sesame Street compared to your average PG 13 movie now. The word hero gets thrown around like candy, too. If someone performs a simple act of compassion or common sense, they aren’t just your average person doing the right thing, but a hero doing something extraordinary. Your last stanzas here are just so deeply felt, and so true–I couldn’t agree with them more. And in my book, you have lived up to your childhood ambition.

    • I’m serious when I say I cannot stomach what is presented as entertainment these days. They have continued to stretch the limits of what is acceptable, and I too, wonder how many young people are watching the filth and gore that is on at all hours of the day. I also agree that the word hero has been co-opted, and as you state, is used to laud the ordinary.
      Thank you for your comment and kind words. I appreciate them very much.

  24. Ravenblack said

    Much sorrow and heartache felt reading this.

    On another note, heroes on television and in comics tend to be ordinary or unconventional. A lot bad but good, flawed but true. I think it says something about today’s world.

  25. Margaret said

    Like a death rattle… it isn’t just America… a seriously sad poem.

  26. janehewey said

    your writing is as powerful as ever. one does not doubt for a second your integrity and heart.

  27. Charles, DONE! Posted to Awakenings: http://awakenings2012.blogspot.com/

  28. zongrik said

    the best heroes are the real ones. real people who surround us who can make good roll models. and maybe the problem isn’t that there aren’t make-believe heroes, but there are not enough heroes. there certainly is no real leadership.


    • I agree; heroes are leaders, and there seems to be a severe shortage of them these days.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  29. ds said

    Yes, it is possible to love one’s country and bemoan its (self-inflicted) fate. I’m reminded of Adrienne Rich. Powerful and sad. You always write from your heart, and it shows. Thank you.

  30. Beautifully said … and sad.

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